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By Definition

Intellectual Property
Generally, “intellectual property” refers to legal protection for a wide variety of things: inventions, artistic works, the goodwill associated with the use of a brand, trade secrets, and sometimes other things (for example, domain names, identity phone number, rights of publicity, data access rights, etc.).  Many of these are protected in part by contracts.  The other primary legal protection systems are patents (for inventions), copyright (for works of authorship), trademarks (for brands), and trade secrecy laws (for the protection of confidential information).

A patent is a right the government grants to a patent owner to exclude others from “practicing” the invention for a limited period of time.  There are a number of specific acts the statute says the patent owner may prevent others from doing.  So “practicing” the invention means, within the US, any of the following acts: making, using, selling, offering to sell, importing, or supplying (from the US) a component of the invention. To be granted, the applicant must file an application to the Unites States Patent and Trademark Office.

A trademark is any word, logo, brand, or other thing that the public can identify as an indicator of the source of goods or services

Copyright protection is for original works of authorship that are “fixed” in any “tangible medium of expression.” The copyright owner has the exclusive right to do certain acts, such as reproduce the work, distribute it, and prepare a derivative work from it (also, in public, to perform or display it).

Trade Secret
A trade secret is information that has value and that the owner has attempted to keep confidential (for example, by taking measures to prevent it from becoming available to persons other than those selected by the owner to have access).

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